Tech

Cloudera taps former head of the company it merged with to be its new CEO

Key Points
  • Rob Bearden was CEO of Hortonworks when competitor Cloudera merged with it last year.
  • Bearden joined Cloudera's board and spent a few months in 2019 as CEO of start-up Docker.
  • Now Bearden is returning to the category he knows well, replacing interim CEO Marty Cole.
Rob Bearden
Source: CNBC

Data software company Cloudera named Rob Bearden as its new CEO on Monday. Bearden was previously the CEO of rival Hortonworks, which merged with Cloudera last year in a stock swap that valued the combined companies at $5.2 billion.

Shares of Cloudera rose 3% in extended trading following the announcement.

Bearden is a familiar face for many of the company's employees. Now he's keen to eke out more savings from the integration of the two companies and bring in more revenue from customers.

Cloudera has already achieved about $125 million in cost synergies, Bearden said in an interview with CNBC on Monday. "We see that there's probably in just operating efficiencies about half that much again that we can get, and we're very focused on generating free cash flow," he said.

Cloudera was founded in 2008, and Hortonworks, which Bearden co-founded, spun out of Yahoo in 2011. The two companies for years challenged each other to commercialize the Hadoop open-source software for storing and processing lots of different kinds of data.

The two companies' stocks moved lower as they competed with each other, as well as better-capitalized cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon and more traditional database software companies like Oracle. Then they came together, looking to take advantage of each other's distinguishing characteristics.

Cloudera's CEO following the merger, Tom Reilly, resigned in July, shortly after Carl Icahn disclosed a stake in the company, and board member Marty Cole took over as interim CEO.

Under Cole, a former Accenture executive, Cloudera stock has nearly doubled as the company beat analysts' expectations. At a $3.4 billion market capitalization, though, Cloudera is still worth less than the $5.2 billion of Cloudera and Hortonworks put together when the merger was announced in October 2018.

Now Cole is retiring to spend time deep-sea fishing.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently acquired the assets of another company in the category, MapR, sending worried MapR customers into Cloudera's arms.

"We've had a number of the MapR customers reaching out to us, and as they learn more about CDP [the Cloudera Data Platform], they're very aggressively embracing us," Bearden said.

Bearden had a brief stint as CEO of open-source software start-up Docker, but that company sold off part of its business to privately held Mirantis in November, and Bearden left then.

Bearden said he has spent the past two or three months meeting with Cloudera's management team to try to establish the plan for the company's 2021 fiscal year, which begins on February 1, 2020.

"I just got very excited about the team itself, the momentum the company was building, and the reception of the new product across the customer bases, and just saw a huge, massive opportunity, and things just fell into place naturally," Bearden said. He was not on the Cloudera's committee to find a replacement for Cole.

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